Fed. analyst says DE's strengths could bring econ. comeback

By Tom Lehman 10:43pm, June 25, 2013 - Updated 11:26pm, June 25, 2013
VIDEO:Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia economic analyst Paul Flora discusses Delaware's strengths.
Analysts from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia weighed in on economic trends affecting Delaware during a presentation at the University of Delaware Tuesday.

The presentation focused on Delaware's advantages and looked at the trends and prospects for the state's industries.

Overall, Paul Flora, an economic analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, says Delaware's economy remains stalled but could strongly rebound as the national economy recovers.

For that reason, state officials say it's important to foster an atmosphere that's attractive to businesses.

"If we're not ready, somebody else is going to be, so we've gotta have all our 'i's dotted and our 't's crossed when the economy turns--and it is turning," says Alan Levin, Director of Economic Development.

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Flora says Delaware has many strengths that allow the state to remain attractive to businesses, such as the Court of Chancery.

While smaller states can't replicate the unique, equity court.

"They can't replicate the expertise of the judges and they have a locational disadvantage," Flora says.

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He also says other states like New York, which might have geographical advantages, can't copy the Court of Chancery model.

"They can't throw out their 200 years of case law and adopt Delaware's," he says. "That would be absurd."

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He says the First State enjoys also enjoys a culture of pragmatic and bipartisan government, which creates a predictable business climate and healthy finances.

Levin shared similar sentiments regarding access to lawmakers.

"I think the biggest asset we have outside of our workforce is the ability to access decision makers and the ability to get a decision made," Levin says.

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Gov. Markell says businesses are looking at aspects like infrastructure, taxes and quality of life when considering whether to move into states like Delaware.

Elif Sen, an economic analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, says Delaware has seen a higher concentration of businesses in health services than the nation during the last few years.

"In the future, as our population ages and continues to require more health services, that could be a boon for Delaware's economy," Sen said.

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Governor Markell, who attended the presentation, noted that the state and stakeholders in medical industries are looking to address rising healthcare costs. He says managing that "unsustainable trajectory" of medical costs, could unintentionally and adversely affect the industry.

"The net effect, if we're successful and the holy grail is to reduce the cost, so that might actually have an offsetting effect in terms of employment," Markell says.

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Sen acknowledged that potential consequence and says the implementation of the Affordable Care Act could also affect employment in the healthcare industry.

However, she says Delaware's small size could help address that particular issue.

"Hopefully Delaware's small size and communication between legislators and businesses can kind of combat that problem," she says.

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